*As CBN stake N2.5bn to boost youth entrepreneurship
James Emejo in Abuja
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele on THursday flagged-off the training of the first batch of applicants under the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP) involving 1,547 members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) across the country.
Already, a N2.5billion-fund had been set aside for lending to applicants with good entrepreneurial orientation and business proposals at single digit interest rate.
The loan is part of the N220 billion fund set aside for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which remained largely untapped since 2012.
However, speaking in Abuja at the flag-off of the YEDP for Corp members, which was held at the NYSC Orientation Camp, Kubwa, the CBN boss, who noted that both the NYSC, degree certificates will be accepted as collateral for the credit, warned that the intervention was not to be seen as a national cake or grant but a loan, which must be repaid.
Emefiele further urged all beneficiaries to show character and commitment to their loan obligation as well as seize the opportunity to create wealth and employment opportunities for others.
According to him, each corp member is entitled to a maximum of N3 million credit.
He said: “We are very optimistic and that is why we are saying that what is important is that our youths display the highest level of probity. Character must remain sound to the extent that they take the loan and they pay the loan. It is very important that this is emphasized and that is why I am saying that it is not a grant and it is a loan that must be paid.
“We are determined to give support to the youth and I truly must thank the National Youth Service Corps who has helped us to put together the first set of NYSC, both present and past ones so that we can nurture them as young entrepreneurs not as people who go into the world looking for jobs, but nurture them as people who are developing the entrepreneurial spirit, entrepreneurial skills, not only for their good but also for the good of the country.”
Continuing, he said: “We do not anticipate that any of them fails. The reason is because Nigeria is not the only country where small and medium enterprises loans have been granted. It has been successful in different countries. In South East Asian economies it has been successful. Indeed, the highest rate of Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) that we have seen in these economies have been a maximum of three per cent.
“So, what we are saying is that if we lend money to 100 people and 97 people pay which is a very commendable feat and that is what we do expect here…however, we have as collateral their NYSC certificate as well as their degree certificate. We know that our youths know the importance of their degree certificates as well as their NYSC certificate as collateral for this loan.
“I don’t think that somebody who has got a degree certificate or HND certificate to attain a gainful employment or a gainful life will abandon his certificate or his NYSC discharge certificate just because he wants to take a loan and not pay. I want to enjoin everyone who has accessed this loan to please pay.”
Earlier, the NYSC Director General, Brigadier General Sule Kazaure described the CBN’s intervention in its programmes as a milestone giving the present economic challenges. The initiative has Heritage Bank Plc as the sole pilot bank.